Friday, March 08, 2013

More Than Calgon Needed Here!

I'm more than well aware that I am now of the "older generation" -been eligible for AARP for almost 20 years now and if my creaking, often achy joints don't prove that I am now officially an "elderly" person, then the things that have been happening around here lately really give tremendous evidence of that.

What things could that be that show my advancing age? Things that sure never would have been imagined by young kids -back in the day when I was a youngun, just starting out in the realm of the school system for openers!

For openers, even before I started first grade, the little boy who lived next door to me and another little girl same age as me who lived in the house on the other side of him and I used to be outside, playing in the yards available to us at every time available. Even as pre-schoolers, we played outside, unsupervised, generally got filthy dirty too and came in only for a drink of water or maybe lunch, then supper. At that young age, we had no television sets to entertain us, nor did we have loads and loads of toys either. Maybe some small shovels (of the beach-type variety) that we used to dig up mounds of dirt and play with whatever else we had that we could pretend was some type of equipment to move dirt from one little pile to another. Rainy days -or really wicked snowy days -when we were relegated to playing inside mostly involved coloring books and crayons or for the other little girl and me -paper dolls, perhaps.

When I was about 10 years old, my Mom bought our first TV set -a second-hand table model and we struggled with terrible reception problems trying to view the only TV station operating within range here. Living down in the gully end of town, surrounded by mountains or piles that resembled mountains but were actually just coal stripping mounds and cuts, watching tv then amounted to viewing lots and lots of snow and trying to decipher the audio which was terrible, due to all kinds of static activity too. But, somehow we managed to deal with that for our home entertainment. (A cable system didn't come into play here until the late 60s, early 70s and even that had very limited channel selections too!)

Somehow, we learned too while watching those programs on the air back then that cartoons were not reality and because many programs on primetime dealt were westerns or crime shows, these were also not really reality either! I grew up watching and loving Roadrunner cartoons but it never gave me any ideas about dropping various pieces of cement or steel boxes or safes or the like on someone or something's heads and the victim being able then to get up, only slightly dazed and go on about his shenanigans. I knew this was a farce, unreal events, made up stories!

Watching programs like Dragnet or The Untouchables or Gunsmoke that showed violence, didn't teach me that violence was the way to operate. If anything, it taught me the opposite -to try to live my life as a law-abiding individual.

My Mom occasionally watched a Soap Opera and I grew up following some of those shows as well and they never, in my opinion, could have been classified as some programming that would or could have been considered to be things showing high moral content -what with all the divorces and children who had as a parent someone NOT the parent they thought was the real deal quite often too. As I got older, watching those shows, I remember marveling at how the women on those programs always did their housework dressed to the nines, including wearing high heels to vacuum and clean house! WOW! How'd they manage to do that? Sure looked a whole lot different from the way my Mom and Grandma dressed to clean or do laundry or cook and/or bake!  You learned to filter a whole lot out of what you saw on the screen then, I think.

Today though -violence as well as sexual content, on the TV or in the movies still exists but those programs generally run at times when children are supposedly in bed, asleep and having dreams of sugar plums and good fairies or some such malarky. That is, unless the kids are tuned into some of the cartoons on tv today which I find to be a bit offensive in the way some issues are addressed. Have you watched Spongebob and listened closely to some of the dialogue? Innuendo abounds in many of those programs that never would have flown in the cartoons of my youth! Kids today definitely know a hell of a lot more about sexual things than I did even when I graduated from high school!

(Maybe, considering how dense and naive I was back then, knowing more about that subject isn't such a terrible idea after all though.)

But the things kids are doing today often are mind-boggling to me.

For one small example, in the past 4-5 weeks now, our school district has been subjected to two bomb threats requiring complete evacuation of the high school and elementary school building, bomb squads and bomb searching dogs, state police searching the buildings and people, including students, etc. Thankfully, no bombs or anything remotely resembling them were found -so hoaxes they turned out to be, but those hoaxes also have cost a pretty penny now to the school district, already struggling to provide decent wages to the teachers and other personnel needed as well as books, supplies, up-to-date technical programs and such to the students too. Each bomb threat that must be fully checked out costs on a minimum $5,000 to the school district and that's just for the dogs brought in to sniff out the premises for the potential of a bomb or explosives!

Since the last bomb threat was received, I have heard that a third grader has been suspended now for 10 days because of something she (yes she -a young girl) was heard to say on a school bus enroute to the school that apparently was considered very threatening!

A couple days ago, three boys in my grandson's class -first graders -were given 10-day suspensions too because one boy apparently had a pocket knife on his person and had shared it around the class with two other boys! A pocket knife!!!

Years back, in my much, much younger days, I think probably most every boy I went to school with had, at some time or other, a pocket knife on him and that then was considered to be a normal event, a normal possession for small boys to have and also, be entrusted with too!

I do realize times have changed and today's society does frown -very much -on anything perceived to be a dangerous weapon and yes, most certainly, pocket knives do qualify to be in that category. In retrospect, they were just as dangerous for kids to have them when I was a youngster as they can be today but the difference being, I think, that kids minds then didn't seem to perceive that harming people was a really cool thing to do whereas today, all too often, kids seem to think this is the way to handle everything and anything that annoys you -stab it or slash it or shoot it!

We hear too of kids being suspended from school for pretend actions as well -merely pointing a finger at someone and pretending it is a gun or other item than could, if real, cause major problems but, suspending a kid for pretending they have a gun, playing cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians perhaps? But then again, back about 50-60 years ago, cops were the good guys, wore white hats ya know and cowboys were heros then too. (Not that they really were when you consider westerns then always portrayed the Native Americans pretty much as being vile people, good for nothing so we did learn a distorted picture of them then, didn't we? So much for accuracy in reporting history I guess!)

The local community here has pretty much been very flabbergasted about the bomb threats as even the younger parents have been heard to say "Gee, when I was a kid, it never crossed my mind to even THINK about a bomb in the school!"

What is happening to our society today though that is creating problems like these? Bullying existed back then probably even more than it does today though because people then often told their kids to turn the other cheek, ignore the bully, taught things like "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never harm me." Sadly, the names, the words of derision, we now realize do cause harm to others and lots of programs are being put into play almost daily to try to eradicate those things that DO cause tremendous hurt to many people -children as well as adults alike!

Just so many things though that today are so different from the way and the world I grew up in and took my cues from in trying to learn to be a civilized adult some day.

I like to think I picked up the right things, correct manners and how to treat people fairly from the way I was raised -my home life -and also, from the various teachers I had over the twelve years I spent in the small, rural school system in place here.

Extra programs for kids, as I got older, generally were not provided at the expense of the schools -other than whatever athletic programs were available (baseball, football, track/field for the boys and softball for the girls), the upperclassmen in school put on a play each year, usually one for each class, and chorus or band provided music instruction then too but other programs often available were outside the school's domain.

I know there still exists some activity within the county of 4-H clubs but not to the same extent as that existed in my youth. From the time I was about in 6th or 7th grade, through graduation, I -and a goodly number of other girls from our area -enjoyed participation in 4-H activities, learning about cooking and sewing for the most part. A great organization then and I'm sure, still teaches the same tenets today as it did back then. People often think of 4-H as primarily for farm kids but really, it can be a great learning experience for kids from any type of background -rural, suburban, urbanites too! Good principles never go out of style or need!

Church activities often took a prominent role too when I was a child and as a teen. Not that these things still don't but there doesn't seem to be near as many kids participating in those activities, those types of groups these days as there were way back when. Of course, there also aren't near as many children around these days to participate in many of the older type of church groups and instruction that existed when I was a kid. Smaller families, both parents working too and not enough time available to transport kids to meetings that in my day were local -within walking distance of the home but today, due to consolidations and the like, transportation to things like that are now a necessity. (We only got a ride to a church event if it was pouring down rain or heavy snow coming down and had to walk the steep hill up to the church on top of the hillside here in town! Good exercise -yes but today, even if the church were still located where it was then, would we let our children walk about 3/4 of a mile without adult supervision? Probably not!)

There are lots of times when I think back and compare my life then to what my kids had and what my grandkids have today and I do think, frequently, that it would be nice to be able to return to a much calmer, less stress-filled life than our kids are subjected to today. Yeah - a good dose of Calgon taking me -my family -away and back to when life was fun and safer would be nice in a lot of aspects.

But, it's not that simple these days. Time marches on and with it, everything does change.

I just wish some of the changes didn't involve many of the things it does seem to bring today though!

1 comment:

Suldog said...

Pretty much spot on, Jeni.

I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned Spongebob and the dialogue. That's the major difference between programming of our youth and the programming today - the lines being said. We grew up with certain societal norms being given us by the programming - you don't swear all the time, you try to be honest, a man marries a woman and is expected to stay with her, too. I'm not saying that swearing has no place, that a lie can't sometimes be the best option, or that sometimes love isn't as cut and dried, but it was a given that we were expected to strive for such things. Now kids have few targets of behavior in the media. It's all "Look at me! I'm a jerk and I have my own show!", with the subconscious message being, "Why don't you be a jerk? Maybe you'll get a show!"

I could go on, but I'm tired just thinking about it. I think I'll go watch a few episodes of Leave It To Beaver and calm down.